Brewing beer can be fun for the people who love it. But it can also be dangerous. Last week, Charlie Gottenkieny, head brewer and part owner of Bruz Beers in north Denver, was severely burned when a batch of beer he was making boiled over the top of the mashtun and cascaded down on his back and right side.
Known as a "boil-over," this kind of accident is one of the worst nightmares for many brewers, says Bruz co-founder Ryan Evans. The beer was Dog Daze IPA, which Bruz makes on a regular basis. "It was the third day in a row we had brewed that beer. It happened so fast, it was alarming. We are still looking into why."
Gottenkieny, who was a homebrewer and beer-brewing educator for thirty years before opening Bruz last June, is still in the hospital, Evans says, and will likely require several surgeries and many weeks of recuperation.
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To help pay for the cost of his medical bills, brewery regular Justin Lemme created a GoFundMe page; as of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $3,000 toward a $5,000 goal, but it could still use some support. A family member posted this note on the page: "Charlie and I can't thank you all enough for your love and support! We're very grateful for our Midtown community, friends and family. You all remind us of how blessed we are, especially in a difficult time."
Gottenkieny and Evans met several years ago in a class, and Evans liked Gottenkieny's beers so much that he promised to invest if the latter ever opened his own brewery. They teamed up last year on Bruz, which focuses on Belgian-style beers — something both men are passionate about. "There are so many different styles brewed there that it gives us a lot of leeway and variety in what we can brew," Gottenkieny said at the time.
Evans says the brewery had been brewing three to five days per week just to keep up with demand in the taproom; other employees are filling in while Gottenkieny is out.
Other brewers around town, along with regulars and residents of the Midtown development where Bruz is located, have offered help and support. "That is amazing, and it is why so many people go into this industry," Evans says. "It certainly shows at a time like this."